It was not just another night at MAPFRE Stadium. After the controversial attendance announcement of 14,416 fans in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Columbus Crew SC fans wanted to leave no doubt the house would be packed when the Black & Gold hosted Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tickets sold out a few days before the game and the cold but bearable weather provided the perfect environment for a huge display of support from the Black & Gold fans, who packed the stadium to an announced sellout attendance of 21,189.
“I had so much fun playing in front of the crowd,” defender Josh Williams said after the match. “It was amazing. To turn out in the numbers they did on a cold night... I heard them all game. A lot of times when I’m playing, I don’t hear the crowd. It was electrifying, they carried us through and it was amazing to see that.”
Again, there were a lot of complaints about excessive security procedures and an alleged limited number of staff at the entrance gates. Huge lines formed minutes before kickoff and a considerable portion of the fans, especially those who arrived at the stadium an hour or less before the scheduled start time, could only get in once the match already started.
When the teams entered the field, nearly 75 percent of the seats were occupied and the stadium reached full capacity around the 15th minute mark. The players were welcomed with thousands of yellow #SaveTheCrew signs, which were handed out at the gates by other fans.
The Nordecke, though, was already pumping and making noise well before kickoff. The supporters section created an electric and passionate atmosphere, which lasted for the entire match, showing unrestricted support for the Black & Gold.
“The crowd was amazing,” head coach Gregg Berhalter commented. “They supported us through the whole match and it is a shame we couldn’t break Toronto’s defense and score a goal that would put the stadium in a frenzy.”
Most of the fans were standing for much of the match. They also gave Toronto FC’s captain Michael Bradley a hard time, booing him every time he touched the ball due to his United States Men’s National Team failing to qualify for the World Cup.
The #SaveTheCrew movement was also in the spotlights as the Nordecke displayed the “Respect Your Roots” tifo, praising MLS’s original franchises.
Toronto FC fans also played an important role in the festive night. The nearly 1,000 fans who made the trip south got to the city early and crowded the sports bars around MAPFRE Stadium. Very excited and friendly, they were chanting and dancing on their way to the stadium.
The scoreless draw is probably not the outcome Crew SC fans expected or deserved, but again, the team’s fanbase showed their passion for the club. As it echoed in the Nordecke after the final whistle, “We’re not done yet!”